Police acknowledge the findings of an Independent Police Conduct Authority report into the use of force at a checkpoint in Auckland last year.
Just after midnight on 7 March 2020, Police were conducting a checkpoint on Redmond Street when a man on a bicycle approached.
The man appeared to be intoxicated and was riding a bicycle at night with no lights on and a helmet that was not secured.
While in the process of trying to obtain his details, the man became aggressive towards staff and rode off.
The man was placed under arrest for obstruction. During the roadside search, the man’s actions lead an officer to believe he was about to be spat on.
In order to prevent the man from being able to spit on him the officer punched him to the side of the face.
The IPCA found Police were justified in arresting the man for obstruction and for the use of force in effecting this arrest.
However, Police accept the IPCA’s finding that the use of force was not justified during the roadside search.
Superintendent Karyn Malthus, District Commander for Auckland City, says Police on the checkpoint had a duty of care to ensure the safety of people and property.
“They were genuinely concerned about letting the man proceed while he was visibly intoxicated and with a lack of safety measures on his bicycle.
“Our staff encountered a man who was aggressive and made verbal threats towards them. One of our staff believed the man’s actions meant he was moving to spit on him.
“To be spat on while doing your job is a stressful event for our staff and puts their health and safety at risk.
“However, Police accept that a punch was not the best option in these circumstances and the officer should have used an open hand to push the man’s face away.”
Police also acknowledge the authority’s finding that a spit hood should have been utilised in this situation.
Superintendent Malthus says the officer involved has since gone through an employment process.
“Any employment matter remains confidential and as such Police are unable to provide any specifics around this process.”
Jarred Williamson/NZ Police